Pensioner found guilty of sex crimes against young neighbour

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A 77-year-old has been found guilty of kissing and intimately fondling his neighbours’ young daughter 20 years ago.

But a jury at St Albans Crown Court acquitted the Hemel Hempstead man of three further offences of indecent assault on her and failed to agree on another indecent assault charge.

The man, who has not been named in order to protect the victim’s identity, was granted bail to await sentence which will take place in July. The offences took place from 1995-2000.

The court heard that the girl was aged around 11 years old when the pair met at the garage block where her father and the defendant both had garages.

It was claimed that the man, then in his late 50s, would be working on his car as he gradually formed a friendship with the schoolgirl.

Graham Smith, prosecuting, said the man “showered” the youngster with attention and affection as he began grooming her.

The jury was told that by the time the girl was 15 she was having full consensual sexual intercourse with the man.

It is said that because of the grooming that had gone on starting when she was “little” the girl had fallen in love with the defendant.

When she was 16, the court heard, she had even moved in with him at the house he shared with his wife.

Mr Smith told the jury the wife would sleep in a separate bedroom to her husband who continued to have sex with the girl.

The jury were told that in October 1998, when the girl was 14, police and social services had investigated the relationship between the pair and arrested the man.

However, because the girl was not willing to co-operate at the time, the case was discontinued.

Mr Smith said it wasn’t until September 2013 that the allegations came out for a second time and the defendant was arrested again.

When interviewed by police he said he knew the girl and said they had been friends, but claimed he had never engaged in any sexual activity with her.

He agreed she had moved in with him but said it was purely to help her out as nothing inappropriate had gone on.